The Anatomy of A Limit Boulder Problem

anatomy-limit-boulder-problem-training-climbing-fabrique-verticale
Limit Bouldering is one of the best ways for rock climbers to train power. When done properly, Limit Bouldering trains max recruitment, contraction speed, core strength and inter-muscular coordination. If that weren’t enough, Limit Bouldering is also highly sport-specific, so the skills developed will translate directly to the rock.

The crux of Limit Bouldering is finding suitable training terrain. If you have the luxury to set your own routes, the best option is to build your own Limit Boulder problems from scratch. Even if you can’t set your own routes you can “make up” problems at your local gym using a system board, or any other part of the wall that has suitable holds and steepness (be sure to take notes on your made up problem so you can remember the holds each session).

So what makes a good Limit Boulder problem?

  • Dynamic movement, featuring dynos that are technically difficult, to holds that are complicated and difficult to latch (if you want to do simple, straight up dynos to flat edges that is all brawn and no brains, use the campus board!).
  • Representative of actual rock, in particular, your goal route(s). Obviously that can vary depending on the climber, but in most cases that means. Not particularly steep. Problems in the range of 10 to 30 degrees over-hanging are sufficiently steep to mimic the vast majority of routes in North America
  • Low-profile hand holds, such as small edges and pockets, that are not overly incut and difficult or impossible to pinch. Such holds are hard to pull “out” on, requiring good core tension and body position.
  • Small, but plentiful footholds (just like you find outside!) that are complex and require precise foot placements
  • One or two intense crux moves. The key is really to focus on a few REALLY difficult moves. This is in contrast to the typical gym boulder problem which may be as many as 15 moves long, with each move roughly the same difficulty. That is power endurance, not power. Limit Bouldering is about power. Your problem can have as many as 8 or so moves as long as “the business” is 1-3 significantly harder moves (with the others being of relatively moderate difficulty).
  • Crux moves close to the ground, so that you can try them repeatedly, without a pump, without having to climb into position, and so that you can really “go for it” without fear of a long or awkward fall to the ground.

Below are two examples of Limit Boulder problems I’ve used in my training. Each of these problems literally took me several training cycles, spread over YEARS, to send. If you can do all the moves of your Limit Boulder problem on the first day, it’s not hard enough. The hardest moves should require many sessions to do in isolation, and linking the entire problem should take close to an entire Power Phase, if not several.

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